By Mitchell Atencio

When I was 10-years-old my family and I moved into a new house. We moved from a medium-sized suburban house in Chandler, Arizona to a custom home in south Gilbert.

First off, I recognize the privilege in this, I wouldn’t feel right writing this if I didn’t acknowledge that. But, that’s not the point of this. The point is finances and saving and the lessons learned.

While there’s plenty of privilege in the house I moved into, it still required saving and smart money practices, which I watched my parents employ. This was especially important because, for context, I turned 10 in 2007 – right before the housing market crashed. And for extra context, my dad works in mortgage servicing.

My parents have never really spoiled us as children. There’s five of us, four at the time of our move, and that costs money in and of itself (also a privilege). Growing up I remember my friends having three game-systems and often in their own rooms – something I didn’t have. I recognize now that my parents saved for bigger things, like our house or college.

Three years before our move we lived in Nevada, in an apartment. From Nevada we moved back into our Chandler home, which had not sold while in Nevada. In-between the Chandler and Gilbert house we lived in a smaller apartment. I remember hating it and our inability to watch football. Again, looking back I see the wisdom.

Some humor in the story. My parents sat us down when the move and build were becoming more official and talked to us about the responsibility of saving money.

“While we prepare to build this house we have to be careful with our money,” my mom told us (I paraphrase).

Next week as my sister paid for a toy with her own quarters and nickels she slowly extended her hand and “carefully” gave it to the cashier while she looked to my mom for approval of her “careful” handling of money.

“We need to reserve where we spend,” my dad said. “We won’t go out to lunch as often or get soda as often if we do go out.”

A few weeks later as we went out to a cheap lunch, one of my siblings asked my parents if they were sure we could afford it. “Remember, we’re saving for a house,” she said.

Ultimately, the lesson learned was years in the making. My parents taught all of us about saving money, but also a bout good stewardship with your children’s minds and understanding. They taught us how to teach others. As I’m a college student now, I see the practicality in being open about my money habits and hopes – even with my younger siblings.

I also watched my parents use their money to serve others. Our house consistently hosts late night teen dinners, midday movies, swim parties – the like. Most notable, we host a labor day party in which everyone is invited. (Seriously, if you’re reading this and would like to come, find my contact info, because you are invited!)

They use the money they saved to give back and serve the community around us. It has been a great lesson in how and where to spend money.